UMBC chief's entertainment fund has yet to pay off


One of the smaller investments by the University of Maryland Foundation Inc. in recent years has been to UMBC President Michael K. Hooker's entertainment account.

So far, it hasn't paid off.

The money -- thousands of dollars -- was advanced on the theory that it would help Dr. Hooker raise money, officials say. But in a recently released tally, he scored third from the bottom among 11 peers in meeting fund-raising goals established for his campus three years ago.

"We've been laying the groundwork for fund raising in the Baltimore area that won't come for two or three or four years," Dr. Hooker said.

When he was named president in 1986, Dr. Hooker was leaving a higher-paying job and negotiated with the foundation to pick up his mortgage in lieu of a higher state salary. He also wanted a bigger expense account, and when alumni donations didn't cover it, the foundation came to the rescue.

All told, the foundation has paid bills of $30,000 to $40,000 a year, including housing payments, for Dr. Hooker, according to Robert G. Smith, past president of the foundation. He acknowledged that the tab in several years exceeded donations raised by the campus. Last year, UMBC raised $17,676 from alumni.

Dr. Hooker is the only state university president to receive such benefits from the foundation's unrestricted funds, foundation officials say. Since he arrived on campus, his state salary has increased more than 50 percent, to $131,040.

Among the bills submitted by Dr. Hooker and paid by the foundation were at least hundreds of dollars for baby sitters and about $1,200 for lawn furniture.

Dr. Hooker said that paying for baby sitters while he and his wife attended university functions was a job-related expense. Foundation officials agreed, calling it common. They also admitted that they goofed by not reporting such personal benefits to the Internal Revenue Service.

Dr. Hooker said the lawn furniture was used for entertaining friends of the university.

He declined to make public his discretionary spending, saying it would be misinterpreted by the newspaper.

He also said bills paid by the foundation in excess of the money raised by UMBC were repaid from alumni contributions in later years.

Other campuses also tap unrestricted alumni donations for their presidents, but they link the amount to the success of annual fund raising.

College Park sets aside about 10 percent for its president. UMAB is more conservative: It invests annual gifts and allots the president 20 percent of the interest they earn the following year.

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